My husband works in Sparks, and has one heck of a commute from our home in Fountain Green – 45 minutes to an hour each day.

He used to work from home, but a new boss put an end to that. Even before that, though, he was driving in more often because he found he was more productive in the office.

We occasionally toss around the idea of moving closer to his work, probably to the Fallston area. We're not actively looking, but we browse the regular home-selling web sites and if the right house were to come along, we'd consider it.

A few weeks ago, we thought we may have found that house – a 2,800-square-foot, brick front house on an acre, for about $300,000. You don't find deals like that too often in Fallston, and as we thought, if you read the listing a little closer, it states "Property being sold as is, seller will make no repairs. Possible mold/discoloration issue."

Before we ruled it out, we wanted to see the house, not just to see if we liked it, but also to see how bad it might really be and if it was something we wanted to pursue.

Short version of this story: the house needed a good amount of work and it's not something we're willing to take a risk on.

The long version is better, though.

I found out a whole bunch of information about this house, which has been empty for about a year, including that a final permit for the owners to live in it was never issued.

I was intrigued as to how that could even happen, so I called the county Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits and this is what I found out:

A building permit was issued in 1990, but no final permit was ever issued, including an insulation permit. A permit was issued for the electrical work, but no information was available about it being re-inspected and the permit expired. Were we to buy the house, we would receive a notice that the property is in violation and we would have to apply for a new building permit; hopefully the existing one could be transferred.

The violation runs with the property, so whoever owns it is responsible for getting it compliant. The county is typically not looking to collect fees or fines, rather it wants to get it back into compliance. The only cost would be for the inspection/permit fees.

If the existing property owner is the one that created the violations, it could be charged an administrative fee ($250) in addition to any others to bring it into compliance.

Now that the county knows about the issue, it will try to contact the property owner, doing a title search, etc. to see who owns the property to get them to bring it into compliance. If it's bank-owned, the bank will be sent a notice of violation; if it's a foreclosure, the notice will be sent to the property owner or trustee as well as the bank. According to Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, property is owned by US Bank National Association in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The county health department issued a temporary final, but not a final final. I'd have to contact them to see what needs to be done.

There is nothing to stop us from buying a house that doesn't have the permits, though we were advised to have a builder/contractor look at the house to see if he could find any structural issues, etc. 

The county was not aware none of the permits were issued; the county is not a policing/enforcement agency, it granted the permit to build, it's the homeowners responsibility to follow through. Now that county is aware of the issues, it is obligated to notify the selling real estate company to pass along the information.

It's not uncommon for things like this to happen, and could be the result of a dispute between the owner and the builder, though it was unclear why it happened with this house. It's not uncommon, but I've never heard of it. I wonder how often it really does happen.

That's that part of the story. If those were the only issues with the house, I think we'd give buying it a little more consideration. But it was our visit to the house that kept us from moving ahead.

Each entrance had essentially "beware of mold" signs on them and urged visitors to wear masks. The wood frames around the garage doors and all the windows were rotten, needing to be replaced.

The biggest problem inside was the mold issue. In big letters, "mold" was written on walls in just about every room. While we could only see it in once place, who knows the extent of the damage. And in the basement, the walls were soaking wet (thankfully we went on a rainy day to be able to see that).

The house looks pretty good, but well-lived in; the walls need some paint (after the mold is taken care of), the carpet needs replacing and the kitchen needs new countertops (mauve counters with brick red walls – ick).

It's just not something we want to deal with, something so uncertain. But for anyone who has some extra cash lying around, is willing to take the risk and likes the challenge, boy, have I found the house for you.